Saturday, 18 January 2014

Exclusive Interview: Jamie Bidwell talks about his amateur career in France

No Holds Barred: Firstly, how old are you Jamie? 

Jamie Bidwell: 21

No Holds Barred: You currently live in France but are originally from Chatham, Kent. Can you tell us why you moved abroad?

Jamie Bidwell:
I was born in Chatham but my parents moved us to France to change our lives. It's actually quite a nice calm life and I feel settled.

No Holds Barred: Did it take long for you to learn French and are you fluent now?

Jamie Bidwell:
Well, you learn something new every day. I'd say it took me three to four years to be fluent. 

No Holds Barred: Do you have any plans to move back to the UK one day?

Jamie Bidwell:
I come back from time to time to see the family and train at the Horton Kirby boxing gym. I wouldn't mind coming back to fight as a pro because in France it is very hard for the French boxers to make it at pro level. I have a few mates who are pro and they're trying to push themselves to European level.

No Holds Barred:
How old were you when you started boxing and why did you get into it?

Jamie Bidwell: I Started boxing at 18. I was playing football at that time too. The thing with football is that if you make a mistake everyone is on your back, but with boxing if you make a mistake you only have yourself to blame. I also used to be quite arrogant, but boxing taught me self respect and respect for others.

No Holds Barred: What weight do you fight at? 
Jamie Bidwell: I box at lightweight. I have gone up to light welterweight a couple of times and welterweight once too.

No Holds Barred: Can you tell us about your amateur career to date? 

Jamie Bidwell:
I started at my first club 'Boxing Club Coutances'. The first two seasons were a nightmare for me. My first amateur fight was against a very experienced boxer who had fought eleven bouts to my zero. Sadly, my trainer stopped the fight early. I was gutted but at the end of the day, my trainer knew best. My second fight was a farce. I was given the decision against another experienced fighter who had fought ten bouts to my one fight. Afterwards, I was in the changing rooms when the other trainer burst in ten minutes later saying the decision had been changed; I got my revenge this season though. I then lost my third fight and got robbed in my fourth fight. In my second season, I had two fights. I got a rematch against the opponent of my fourth fight [Anthony Larquemin] and got robbed once again. I then changed clubs and went to 'Boxing Club Granville' and went on to box in the regional cup final. I fractured my hand in the first round though and went on to lose the fight by one point. During my third season, I got employed at EDF [√Člectricit√© de France] in Rouen, so for the third time I changed club; I went to 'Noble Art Rouen' where I have Salem Hamraoui as my new trainer. My first fight was a quarter-final for the Normandy Championships. I wasn't ready for the fight at all and after being schooled for three rounds I lost on points. I then took on Anthony Larquemin for the third time - this time in his hometown. I refused to lose this fight and I went at it for all three rounds and won comfortably. I then moved up to light welterweight and beat Kalaidine Boina who was 5 kilos [11 lbs] heavier than me. I then boxed in the semi-finals of the Normandy Cup against a Russian called Rubik Gryvorgian; I lost to him the year before in the final when I fractured my hand. For the third fight in a row I won another comfortable decision (21-10). I then lost a fight due to my own fault and misjudgement. I then moved up to welterweight and boxed for Team Normandy and took on the champion of Belgium Sergio Mirmina and won a very close points decision.

No Holds Barred: You recently finished in the semi-finals of a regional tournament. How do you think you did? 

Jamie Bidwell:
I won the quarter finals against a guy called Guillaume Mahaut. He was the guy I boxed three seasons ago and was given the decision against, until it got reversed ten minutes later, so revenge was pretty sweet. I then got eliminated in the semi-finals due to very poor judging. My trainer Salem was disgusted with the decision. I was doing brilliantly in the Championships and I know I could have won it this season. I have now had 14 fights in total with five wins. I'm determined to get my win ratio up.

No Holds Barred: Can you tell us about your coach Salem Hamraoui and what he thinks of your boxing ability?

Jamie Bidwell:
He trains fighters at my gym in Normandy and also trains the Algerian Desert hawks WSB team. For the moment he has got me working on my counter-punching. He is a brilliant trainer and he adapts himself to the boxer's needs. I have an excellent relationship with my trainer and I feel he's the only one who can get through to me when in the corner.

No Holds Barred: What is the competition like at amateur level in France in your opinion?

Jamie Bidwell:
The boxing level in France is okay. It's just a shame that there is not that much investment and support unlike in the UK. For example, I boxed against the champion of Belgium in France so I was fighting on home turf. You'd expect to hear the home fans more but there wasn't one cheer from the French; all you could hear were the Belgian fans. My toughest fight to date was that one against Sergio [Mirmina].

No Holds Barred: How have you been received by French fighters and fans? Are you one of the boys or a "Rosbif" still [Laughs]?

Jamie Bidwell:
Well, at the beginning of my amateur career I got racially abused by fans and fighters who had no respect for me. But I love it when the crowd is against me; It gives me that extra boost to win.

No Holds Barred:
How would you describe your style?

Jamie Bidwell: At the start I'd say my style was hit and hope [laughs]. Since I have been with Salem I have now become so much better technically. I now box the way my coach tells me to and I'm more comfortable doing so.

No Holds Barred: What are your plans for 2014?

Jamie Bidwell:
My plans for 2014 are to win as many fights as possible. We are waiting for a decision from the Federation to see if I can box in the French National championships, so fingers crossed. That would be great.

No Holds Barred: Do you plan to go professional one day?

Jamie Bidwell:
Yeah, I would love to go pro. Only time will tell though. My trainer will be the man who decides when the time is right.

No Holds Barred: What is the best and worst part of being a boxer?

Jamie Bidwell:
The worst part of boxing is the dodgy decisions and a corrupt Federation. The best part is fight night; Coming out to the music and the fans, having the fight and most importantly having your hand held up high at the end.

No Holds Barred: What is your proudest moment so far as a boxer?

Jamie Bidwell:
My proudest moments in boxing so far are being the only winner of the Normandy team on the Normandy vs Belgium showdown. I was absolutely scared stiff as I watched the whole Normandy team get destroyed one-by-one. My other proudest moment was finally winning a fight in front of my parents. They had only ever seen me lose or get robbed up until then. I had never seen them look so happy after a fight.

No Holds Barred:
Do you have a boxing nickname? 

Jamie Bidwell: [Laughs]. Yeah, my trainer gave me a nickname; He calls me the 'British Dynamite' because I'm an explosive fighter.

No Holds Barred: Who is your all-time favourite fighter and what is your favourite fight? 
Jamie Bidwell: My all-time favourite fighter is Ricky Hatton. I idolise the guy. He was a pure warrior; I would love to meet him. I'd say he's followed by Floyd Mayweather. My all-time favourite fight is Arturo Gatti vs Micky Ward. That was just a full-scale war.

No Holds Barred: Where can fans find you online? 
Jamie Bidwell: I'm only an amateur so don't really expect to have fans [Laughs]. They can find me on Facebook:, Twitter: @BidwellJamie; Youtube:
My two biggest fans are my parents; especially my Dad who tries to be at every fight.

No Holds Barred: Do you have a message for boxing fans?

Jamie Bidwell: If any boxing fans out there want to try boxing or get fit I encourage you to go to your local boxing gym. It is definitely the best sport out there; especially for kids. The sport teaches them self-respect and respect for others. If anyone lives near Dartford or in the Kent area, there is a good gym, with a friendly environment, called the 'Horton Kirby Boxing Club'.

No Holds Barred: Thanks for talking to us today and best of luck with your career.

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